Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Swine Flu and the Mature (hacking cough) Heroine

It's Tuesday. I'm supposed to be posting about craft AND mature heroines. Cripes. Even on a good day that's a reach for me. Today (er, the day I'm writing this) isn't a good day. I paid estimated taxes, property taxes, stood in line for a bazillion hours at the post office, and ate a hamburger bun for lunch. So now I'm poor, tired and malnourished. I might-could get up the nerve to talk about mature heroines, but I'm not going near the craft thing. My notion of craft has more cooties than a kid with swine flu.

Swine flu. Now there's something I can write about. I should've been a doctor. My handwriting is sufficiently atrocious, and I possess a certain untoward curiosity. If you want to show me your boil, I'll look at it and give you free, but potentially harmful, advice. In that spirit, I offer my experience with N1H1.

My son calls California the "State of Emergency" because they have a budget crisis, wildfire or earthquake every fifteen seconds. Georgia, where we live, used to be the Peach State. Now we're the N1H1 state. You hear about a confirmed case here or there, but in reality, "The Flu" is all over Georgia like a fog of Aqua Net hairspray. Both my kids had it.

Our Experience:

1. A bit of a sore throat for a day or two before.

2. Headache and fever (101 or so) and a cough sets in.

3. Fever lasts or one or two days. Cough lasts a week longer.

4. You're contagious 24 hours after the fever ends. This is on the authority of Dr. Swails, our most excellent pediatrician.

5. Incubation period is 1-3 days.

6. If you have another potentially serious condition, see the doctor. Otherwise, it's not as bad as the regular flu. Don't be one of the idiots jamming the ER just because you get a bit of a fever.

7. According to the kids, never admit you had swine flu unless you want to be treated like a leper. You were just ill, got it?

9. Call it N1H1. It sounds more cultured.

10. Mostly kids are getting it. For once, us mature heroines are getting a break.

11. Can you believe I tied swine flu to mature heroines? Those weird associations usually only work in Frank Zappa songs.

I love books and movies with mature heroines. By mature, I mean women of post-childbearing age, 45 and better. I'm throwing this out there for discussion -- I don't think mature heroines will be a staple of the romance genre as it's currently being written. Why? Well, it isn't because of the heroines. They're interesting, sensual, just as eager to be in love. It's because we savor alpha men in this genre.

Men get mellower with age, like good booze. It's harder to craft a believable 50-year-old alpha hunk than a strapping young one unless he's a multi-millennium-old paranormal guy. And I guarantee Mad Max Methuselah isn't rocking the world of anyone who uses Oil of Olay.

Older alpha men seem relegated to the ranks of the Bad Dudes. Evilness must elevate testosterone levels. They're power-lusting politicians, war-mongering generals and tyrannic tycoons. Come on, don't we think they're a bit silly for swaggering on?

What do you think?

Stay well.

Image from huhwhat.com/?tag=list


Marilyn Baron said...

I loved your post. And finally, someone is talking about the swine flu. I mean we know it's out there and I've heard secondhand of people who have it but your post is probably the most informative (and funny)thing out there on the subject.

I loved your line about mature heroines finally getting a break from something.

I hope people can find something salvageable, sensual about a mature hero because I'm writing one now. The guy used to be a real hunk, but can I still pull it off?

And speaking as a mature heroine, I think there's a future for us. After all, the entire population is aging and we need something to hang onto.

Well, you started my day with a laugh. So thanks and may we all be spared from the swine flu.

Marilyn Baron

Cyrano said...

Loved your post. Laughed during a sip of Joe and spit some on the computer screen. You need a disclaimer: Don't swill coffee and read my work, you might electricute yourself!
I'm dismayed to say I've never read a romance with a mature-45 plus- heroine.
I never set out looking for a book and said, "No way am I reading a story about an older woman", I've just never picked one up. Why is that? Are the mature heroine stories located in the basement of bookstores? Down in the bowls of the building under a blinking fluorescent light and a layer of dust?
I sure hope not.
I might be totally off base here, but why do stories of this nature seem so few and far between?
I've read loads of great books in my life, all of them with young heroines. I bet there's a treasure trove of novels out there, featuring the mature heroine that would knock my literary socks off.
I just need some help finding them.
Any suggestions on a good MH read?
I'd love to hear your favorite.
Great post Anna.
Have a great day!

Cyrano said...

I just mentioned I'm looking for a book featuring a mature heroine. I'm glad to hear you're writing one.
Ever need a fresh pair of eyes, let me know off line. I'll be glad to read some of your work.

Anna Steffl said...

Hey Marilyn -- get that book out there. There's a huge market for someone who can figure out how to do this well. I love the angle of a guy that used to be a real hunk and a woman reigniting that hunkiness! That's a winner.


Anna Steffl said...

Good AM Tamara,

Maybe the next PFHT novel should feature a mature heroine.

Yeah, you're right these stories are few and far between. But so were 35 year old heroines a few years ago. Maybe this is going to be the next big thing in romance once the vampire craze dies down.

Anna Steffl said...

Oh, just to support my point about the leper label -- Joe Cox, GA QB, had "flu-like" symptoms so they flew him to the OK State game on a separate plane. A thousand bucks that he had swine flu, but they didn't want to say it.

J Perry Stone said...

I don't even need coffee this morning because this perked me right up!

My favorite parts:

"I possess an untoward curiosity."

This just makes me like you more, Anna.

"Can you believe I tied swine flu to mature heroines? Those weird associations usually only work in Frank Zappa songs."

You're the quirkiest! Originality is my kind of heroin.

"Men get mellower with age, like good booze."

Damn good point. No wonder my parents' marriage has gotten smoother.

"I guarantee Mad Max Methuselah isn't rocking the world of anyone who uses Oil of Olay."

Another damn good point, and Holy Hell, this made me laugh.

"Evilness must elevate testosterone levels."

You're right! Can this be my next blog post? I never thought that it wasn't the mature heroines. It's the fact we need testosteroned men. And a little evil elevates that.

Why do we associate bad boy with hot?

CiCi Barnes said...

Love the post. Your way with words makes me envious.

I'm also writing about a mature heroine, but knowing she won't get a spark of interest from a publisher, I had her travel back in time to when she was 28. She may look the right age, but she knows what every mature woman knows: a lot more than a 28-year-old kid . . . and how to avoid the swine flu. (Lock yourself in your office and write.)

Great post, Anna.


Tami Brothers said...

LOL funny!!!

I'm actually home today with a sick kid. Was wondering if it was the flu, but your description rules that out. Whew. Makes me feel better.

I haven't read many books about older heroines recently but I have in years past. I really wish I could see more now that I'm headed into that age group...grin...


Susan May said...

You always have the most interesting post. I always chuckle during them. Swine Flu- with a heart transplant kid I'm starting to thnk twice about where he goes and when. I've never been over protective but I do want him to wash his hand more often.

Sandy Elzie said...

Good morning,

Well, I wrote a book about a 49 year old woman (alpha, lawyer) who was run into (literally)by a 44 year old and he pushed her into dating him. She worried about the 5 year age difference and about her 2 twenty-something daughters' opinions and her stretch marks from birthing those two children. Of course, he's a fantastic guy and overlooks flaws and nasty words from the daughters to capture her heart.

Everyone who has read it really loved it...except the editors. I was told that "older women don't sell". Are they telling us ladies that when we cross over that invisible 30ish age that we become non-worthy? Hummmmmm
Anyway, loved the post...laughed several times. You gave this old lady a smile to start my day at the computer.
I'm leaning my cane against the desk now and with luck it won't fall to the floor which would force me to lean over to get it and hopefully not fall to the floor also where I just might not be able to get back up from. (g)


Anna Steffl said...

Juliane and Cici, thanks for being so nice. I'm going to need fortification today as I'll probably get the Maggie entry back and it ain't gonna be good. A learning experience, yes. A good jab in the jaw, yes. Got to keep up the good fight & all.

Thanks, guys. You're the best.

Anna Steffl said...

Hey Tami,

I'm exactly of that sentiment about wanting to read more books with older heroines now that I'm headed there. I'll still read the coming-of-age books, but I'm ready for something fresh.

Maxine Davis said...


Love it and laughed throughout! You are a great writer!

Some journal should pick up your story about swine flu - it is far more informative than I've heard anywhere.

Oh, Sandy, don't tell me they don't want mature heroines - or maybe now IS the time to tell me. It was my next book. Oh, well.

Everyone have a good day and stay well.

Anna Steffl said...

Yeah, Susan, I understand your concern about the flu. It does spread rapidly among the younger crowd. My daughter has asthma so I did take her in to get the tamiflu when she developed symptoms. My son, I just let it run the course.

Anna Steffl said...

Sandy, you are the queen of stories. You have all these great novels.

I'm thinking publishers just haven't figured out how to market mature-romances. Haywood did it with the red hats because she had a target group of buyers (and really good writing). So, don't tell people won't read mature heroines. There was an obvious marketing plan there. NY just needs to put a little money behind a few more books to get trend going on a broader basis (IMHO).

Anna Steffl said...

Thanks for reading Maxine. It was fun reading in yesterday's comments that you married a guy three years younger, too. It DID seem like such a big deal back then. Now, phew, small spuds.

Linsey Lanier said...

Hilarious post, Anna! Superbly written.

I share with you the atrocious handwriting. My mother wanted me to be a doctor, but I get really queasy at the sight of blood. Got a little dizzy at your boil description. Yeewww!

Yes, I do agree alpha men dominate the genre. However a swipe at a self-centered creep is appreciated once in awhile. For example, Haywood Smith's "Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch." I loved this book (listened to the unabridged version on tape). It was hysterical. But I must admit I was disappointed the hero didn't redeem himself in the end.


Anna Steffl said...

Hi Lindsey,

Finally, another woman with bad handwriting. I was probably the only girl of 10 in my catholic gradeschool who couldn't get an A in handwriting -- and it went downhill from there!


Autumn Jordon said...

Great post! Love your voice.

I don't know. I lust after Sean, Gere, Harrison. Younger guys, remind me of my sons. Not for me. I like the older more mature hero with out the rock hard abs and with a tender heart.

Thanks for the advice on swine flu as I'll be flying into the big A soon.

Nicki Salcedo said...

I'm super late to the party, but I can blame 3 sick kids. No H1N1 confirmation, but what does it matter. A sick kid still means no sleep. Thanks for the H1N1 101.

My current WIP has an alpha hero, but his alpha days are behind him. He's a single grandparent. I hope I can pull off his maturity! And I still think he is sexy. Thanks for the great post.

John Steffl said...


Loved your post. Frank Zappa rocks but not as good as you do.

Johnny Love

racheld said...

I stumbled upon your blog whilst Googling, "so she covered the petits fours with hairspray when she got home," and now I see that such a cryptic line was a SIGN. A SIGN.

I just loved this post, and will be back soon as soon, for more. Y'all are SO interesting and funny, and, of course, cool.

I DO love the scent of Noxzema in the morning.